"Martha, I'm not doing it. I'm not going back in there."
My hands feel hot and sticky. A biro in one hand, and a ringbound sketchpad in the other. The edges of the pages are digging into my palm.
"I know you don't like it, Adie, but you have to know." Martha tells me. I stare at her, the only mother I had, as I've always known her, as blonde curls and lavender.
"It's sick. It's sick. It's disgusting."
"I know, dear." She bends down so her face is level with mine. I stare into her giant blue eyes. "It's good that you're having such a reaction to what he did, Adie. I know it's not nice. What he did - was not nice."
What he did. What I did. The notion that I'm related to such a monster - that I am that monster - makes me want to be sick again.
I hate Personal History class. I hate learning about myself. I hate war and I hate tactics. I hate having the knowledge that I'm an ancient psychopath with a silly moustache trapped in the body of a thirteen-year-old.
And not nice is an understatement.
"I don't want to go back in there."
Martha's lips purse. "Perhaps...perhaps if you..." she begins, but she soon gives up. "I'll go and talk to them," she says eventually.
"Make sure I don't ever have to do Personal History classes again."
"I'm not sure I can guarantee that..."
"Please." This is the second time this week that I've come out of PH classes upset.
"Listen," she says calmly. "I'll go and talk to them. Meanwhile, you - go outside and sketch. I'll meet you at break in the canteen."
I'm feeling a little better, so I leave. As I take myself into the courtyard outside the classroom, towards the Gardens, I begin to imagine a life without PH classes. What would I do with my time? - probably sketching, or playing chess, or discussing politics...
Not that I don't like those subjects. I do. I enjoy learning about how to manipulate the masses and running a country. It's quite interesting. What I don't like is the actual history - the actual relevance it has to me. It's just...too close...
Damn! Salvador Dali's under my favourite tree again. He's painting. I crouch down, and crawl behind the hedge, where I can observe his painting. It's magnificent - melted watches, dead birds, on a background of yellow and blue, from what I can see.
He's magnificent. I'm so jealous.
I sit down in the mud and begin to draw him. But the drawing doesn't feel right, my sketch-Salvador isn't working, somehow. For reasons I can't explain, I rip out the page and prepare to start over.
"Adolf, get out of there."
Reluctantly, I crawl out of the bush. Salvador's staring at me with a look of shamelessly undisguised revulsion on his face.
"Right. Go away; I'm painting."
"Can I see?"
He's a lot older than me, and when he stands up he's loads taller. There's a little stubble around his upper lip and cheeks - stubble which I'm yet to grow.
"No, Adolf. Just go away. I'm busy now, what don't you get? Just go."
I know when to leave. I troop out of the yard, and into the cool corridors of the complex.
I don't let Salvador get me down for long. I know there's always going to be someone else to sketch. It's break-time now, and my fellow exhausted clones are coming out of classrooms and meeting up. I don't associate with them, I know what happens if you try. I usually leave them to hate on the nearest social outcast - which is usually Napoleon.
I pass Wolfy in the corridor. Upon eye contact he hurriedly looks away. Richard and Julius pass me, chatting loudly, but they fall silent as I walk past. Next comes Napoleon, who gives me a feral glare, and, clutching a gigantic pile of books, hurries off.
Down the corridor - aha! My next sketch-victims. Gandhi and Marie Antoinette, laughing in the corridor. Gandhi's done something stupid to his hair - he's spiked it up or something - and I document this with wild enthusiasm.
I make my way to the canteen, giggling at m caricature of a Gandhi with what now looks like black liberty spikes sticking out from his head. While I wait for Martha, I refine him, to look stupid, to look vain, which is what he is.
Ten minutes pass. Martha isn't here. Twenty minutes pass, and she still doesn't show herself. Thirty, then forty, and still no Martha.
It's way past time to go back to PH classes, and I'm late. Something inside me tells me that something has gone drastically wrong.
I make my way, after an hour, back to class. The world seems shadowed in hues of dark graphite. There's a feeling I cannot place. All I know is -
Something very bad has happened to Martha.